Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Bibles go bye-bye in some hotels, and it's because of millennials

by Take Two®

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Flickr user Anna Garlikowska (Creative Commons)

Check into a hotel and you'll get the usual amenities – a nice terry cloth robe, a well-stocked minibar and maybe a chance to order room service.

But something will be missing at San Diego's Moxy Hotel opening next year and at the Edition Hotel debuting 2018 in West Hollywood.

The Word of God.

Neither will have rooms pre-stocked with Bibles or religious books for guests, according to parent company Marriott.

Religious materials will still appear in Marriott's other brands – like Courtyard and Fairfield – but the company says Moxy and Edition are aimed at millennial guests.

And religious books don't fit in with those brands nor what they say millennials want.

"Our society has become more secular," says religion expert Diane Winston from USC.

It's a paradox because while 90 percent of Americans believe in God, Winston says a vast majority of people are also religiously unaffiliated.

"I don't think the students I run into are going to be very offended to find a Bible in their room. I think they'd be more like, 'Why is this here?' and 'Who cares?'" she says. "My experience of millennials is that it's more 'whatever' than actual hostility."

The trend is bigger than these specific hotels, however.

In the decade between 2006 and now, the percentage of hotels with religious books dropped from 95 percent to just 48 percent according to the hospitality research firm STR.

It's a marked shift from when Bibles first started appearing in rooms a century ago.

Most hotel Bibles come from Gideons International, founded in 1899 by two men traveling in Wisconsin who shared a hotel room as well as a faith.

They thought a great way to spread Christianity was to distribute copies of the book to inns across the country free of charge.

If fewer rooms offer them now, however, it might not be solely due to faith in America, but because of the growth of technology with phones and tablets.

"There are plenty of Bible apps available, so you don't really need a hard copy," says Winston.

So what DO millennials want in a hotel?

There's a big slice of the hotel market that's all about catering to young people, and companies are trying to understand what lures them in.

"They are seeking more of an experience," says San Diego State University hotel expert Carl Winston. "I think they're seeking bragging rights via social media."

So places with colorful, sleek and Instagrammable design win out. Also a plus are hotels with spacious lobbies where guests can see, be seen AND get great wifi for their laptops.

"It's a very public lobby that feels like a cool living room," he says. "Those are the shared experiences that millennials are seeking."

Meanwhile, older generations might make their hotel choices based on things like location, comfort and loyalty points.

But Winston says companies like Marriott are creating different hotels for all those different crowds – while Moxy may be for Millennials, there will still be Ritz Carlton for the monied set, for example, and Fairfield Inn for families with small children.

So take heart, Baby Boomers: Winston is in your generation, too, and he says hotels will still try to earn your business.

"While there's a lot of millennials, I still have a lot more money than they do," he says.

Hear the full conversation by clicking the audio player above.

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